CAFOs Coming Into Jefferson County – A JFAN Update

Even in the face of the Porcine Epidemic Diarrhea Virus (PEDv) that has killed at least seven million piglets, significant CAFO expansion is taking place in Southeast Iowa. Jefferson County is not as hard hit as some other counties, such as Henry, Des Moines and Louisa, but neither have we escaped without any new development.

Six new CAFOs for Jefferson County are sited primarily in rural areas. The following is an update of what we are experiencing so far this year and JFAN’s effort in supporting neighbors.

Hog House

The Iowa Department of Natural Resources (DNR) approved a 2480-head confinement for Section 12 of Black Hawk Township on May 29. The CAFO, owned by Jim Adam of Hog Haven Agri-Sales, will be built on Mahogany Avenue, Richland, just south of 110th Street. Mr. Adam does not live next to his new CAFO.

Hog Haven will be sited across the street, and less than a half mile away, from AMA Farms, a 2480-head factory farm built last year by Matt and Aaron Adam, Jim Adam’s son and nephew, respectively.

After reviewing the application, JFAN had concerns that Aaron Adam would be managing both confinements and the new CAFO thereby fall under the definition of Common Management with AMA Farms. We submitted a complaint to the DNR requesting that the agency determine if Hog Haven should be considered an expansion of AMA Farms, requiring a permit and Master Matrix.

The DNR’s legal counsel advised JFAN that while Iowa law may have defined such a situation as Common Management prior to 1995 (the year local control was rescinded), the law was changed in preceding years, and the definition did not apply to this situation. (See the update below on the Casey Diehl CAFOs for more on this.)

Letters went out to all neighbors in a two-mile radius, and several neighbors expressed concern. JFAN is providing informational guidance to this group as they weigh their options for taking action.

Jacob Adam CAFO

Jacob Adam is building an 1800-head CAFO at 2773 Salina Road, Fairfield, in Section 12 of Buchanan Township. Mr. Adam is a young CAFO owner, and the confinement will be sited on the property of Tom Adam, his father. On his DNR application, Mr. Adam lists his home as within Fairfield’s city limits, and it appears he will not be living next to his CAFO. The DNR approved the application on April 29.

JFAN assessed the Manure Management Plan and addressed several points with the DNR. which the agency investigated.

Neighbors also reached out to JFAN after hearing about the CAFO for the first time through JFAN’s notification letters. We are providing informational guidance and support as the community organizes and decides what course of action to pursue. Some neighbors have already spoken to Mr. Adam about their opposition, but to no avail.

Casey Diehl and Tracy Diehl CAFOs

A 5,000 head hog operation owned by Casey and Tracy Diehl was proposed and approved last fall. The CAFOs are located at 2636 and 2694 167th Street, Fairfield in Section 2 of Buchanan Township, less than a mile northwest of the Jacob Adam CAFO. The Diehl sites were submitted as two separate 2480-head CAFOs, one in Casey Diehl’s name and one in his wife, Tracy Diehl’s, name.

Neighbors spoke to Mr. Diehl about their concerns last fall, and at the time, Mr. Diehl didn’t pursue construction. Within the last few weeks, however, the neighbors indirectly found out that Mr. Diehl was moving ahead with building his confinement.

Given the family relationship between Casey and Tracy Diehl and the close proximity of the buildings, the two factory farms should be considered one site under the Iowa Code’s definition of Common Ownership. JFAN filed a complaint with the DNR stating the operation should require a permit and Master Matrix, regardless of the fact they were in two different LLC names. JFAN made the point that the CAFOs also should be considered under Common Management since, based on our investigations, we found it likely Mr. Diehl would be managing both confinements.

In following up on our complaints, JFAN learned that the DNR’s investigation found Ms. Diehl’s LLC was set up so that she was a minority owner, with the majority ownership placed under another family member’s name. The law states that majority ownership is required for the Common Ownership definition to be applied in a situation involving spouses. This appears to be an attempt to circumvent the laws that provides for greater oversight through the Master Matrix and construction permit process for facilities over 2500 head of hogs.

CAFOs with 2500 or more hogs must be built with greater separation distances from residences, churches, and businesses and must follow somewhat stronger regulations as required through the Master Matrix.

JFAN also learned that the Iowa Legislature has changed how the definition of Common Management is applied. According to the DNR’s legal counsel, the Integrator (the hog corporation that contracts with the Diehl’s) is legally considered the manager of the CAFO since the Integrator owns the hogs, provides the feed, and dictates in detail how the livestock should be raised. Mr. Diehl is considered a “worker”, not a manager, of his own operation since he must follow the Integrator’s strict guidelines.

However, Iowa law now exempts Integrators from the Common Management definition. This was not the case in the past. Now the term Common Management refers to a third-party company hired by an Integrator specifically to manage CAFOs owned directly by the Integrator, a relatively uncommon situation in Iowa.

Iowa laws provide convenient loopholes to disqualify many CAFO owners from adhering to the minimal laws that govern confinements. The laws are written to promote animal agriculture and not the environment or Iowa citizens. It’s indeed a very frustrating situation with our laws having very little meaning and provide very little protection.

JFAN will continue to address the LLC situation in Iowa, which allows for large confinements to be separated into smaller unpermitted operations on paper even though a large confinement is the reality. We are exploring options with environmental attorney Danielle Diamond, Executive Director of the Socially Responsible Agricultural Project (SRAP), who has dealt with similar issues in Illinois. We will keep you posted on any breakthroughs in this area.

JA-AM, LLC

James Tedrow is proposing a 2480-head factory farm at 1624 275th Street, Libertyville in Section 31 of Liberty Township. This CAFO is located near the Van Buren County border. Mr. Tedrow and his family live on the property, just west of where the CAFO is proposed.

Letters went out to all neighbors in the area, and a neighbor reached out to JFAN for assistance. We provided initial informational guidance and are available for continued support.

Toast Finisher

The DNR received an 1800-head CAFO application on from Tony Adrian of May 30. The confinement would be sited on 130th Street, one-quarter mile east of Kava Avenue in Section 14 of Black Hawk Township. Several concerned neighbors in the two-mile radius of Hog House area also in the two-mile radius of Toast Finisher. Mr. Adrian lives ¾ of a mile east of the proposed CAFO.

Notification was sent to all neighbors in a two-mile radius, and we have already informed the neighborhood group organizing near Hog House about this new development.

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